Waterton Lakes National Park
Despite being one of Canada’s lesser known and least congested national parks, Waterton Lakes is also one of Canada’s most spectacular. Jagged glacier-carved peaks jet toward the sky alongside deep blue mountain lakes. High alpine lakes, impressive waterfalls and alpine meadows bursting with wildflowers are among the destinations for some of the most scenic views in the Canadian Rockies. Waterton is also home to abundant wildlife, sharing a vibrant Rocky Mountain ecosystem with its adjacent American sibling Glacier National Park. Elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and moose are frequently seen along the park’s roadways.
One of the most photographed places in the world, the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel was constructed in 1927 by the Great Northern Railway. One of Canada’s Grand Railway Hotels, this refined chateau provides a striking contrast to its rugged surroundings. Waterton Village offers numerous other lodging offerings from luxurious suites to affordable hotels. Great eateries, galleries and day spas are all easily in walking distance from all of the areas hotels. REMEMBER, ALL CANADIAN PARKS ARE FREE IN 2017! DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT!
Over 250 kilometers of trails are located within the Waterton complex. Trails range in difficulty from a leisurely half-mile round trip to pristine Akamina Lake to the strenuous 11 mile round trip to the scenic waterfall at Crypt Lake.
Crypt Lake | 10.5 miles | Moderate
Overview: Crypt Lake will challenge both your endurance and your belief that something so incredible can truly exist. Pass by a couple waterfalls before making your way up a series of switchbacks. You’ll have the chance to climb a metal ladder, bolted to the mountain before creeping through a 4 ft wide tunnel in the mountain. The long and strenuous hike to Crypt Lake is perfectly capped with a dip in the frigid waters to cool off.
Directions: Catch the boat at Waterton Marina. Be sure to check boat schedules beforehand so you don’t miss your shuttle.
Bear’s Hump | 1.8 miles | Moderate
Overview: Short and steep, Bear’s Hump is at the top of many visitors list of must-hikes. It doesn’t take long to reach the hump that will give you spectacular views of the townsite, Waterton Valley and the rolling prairies.
Directions: Begin at the Information Centre, follow the steep trail until it flattens out and gives you the view you’ve been searching for.
Bertha Lake | 6.8 miles | Moderate
Overview: It’s no wonder the Bertha Lake hike is a favourite for many. What starts as a fairly easy walk to the base of Bertha Falls quickly steepens as a series of switchbacks leads you to the crystal clear water of Bertha Lake, nestled in the panorama of Mount Richards, Mount Alderson and Bertha Peak.
Directions: Just past Cameron Falls, you will find the trail head for Bertha Lake, from there the trail is well marked the whole way up!
Crandell Lake Trail | 6.8 miles | Moderate
Overview: Crandell Lake Trail is the perfect family hike, a relatively steady walk that never becomes overly steep will quickly bring you to the picturesque Crandell Lake. The emerald lake is often so calm it acts as a mirror for the surrounding mountains.
Directions: The quickest approach is the Crandell Lake trailhead on the Akamina Parkway.
Carthew-Anderson Trail | 6.8 miles | Difficult
Overview: Everything you could want to see in the mountains, wrapped up in just one hike! Carthew – Alderson trail gives you summit views, mountain lakes, wildflowers, waterfalls and lush forests. What more could you want?
Directions: A shuttle will be needed as this trail can either begin at Cameron Lake at the end of the Akamina Parkway and trek to Cameron Falls and the Waterton Townsite or vice versa.
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Waterton Lakes National Park is divided by several scenic Parkways that provide exceptional scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities.
- Akamina Parkway
- Starting in the village of Waterton, the Akamina Parkway rises quickly above the valley floor as it follows along Cameron Creek for 10 miles to beautiful Cameron Lake. Several seasonal waterfalls are visible along this densely forested parkway and the route also provides access to several picnic shelters and backcountry trailheads.
- Buffalo Paddock Circle
- Located just north of the Waterton Lakes entrance, this roadway accesses a vast grassland at the base of Waterton’s peaks. This area is frequented by a heard of native bison.
- Chief Mountain International Highway
- Spanning the US and Canadian boarder, the Chief Mountain Highway allows summer visitors to travel between Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes. This scenic highway offers dramatic views from its high elevation route, allowing visitors to see many of the area’s most distinct peaks and other geographic features from one vantage point.
- Red Rock Parkway
- Extending 9 miles into the Blakiston Valley, the Red Rocks Parkway traverses rolling prairie as it yields to the dramatic mountain peaks. The route offers unobstructed views of the highest peak in the park Mount Blakiston along with some of the park’s most interested geological traits including contrasting red and green colored rock formations naturally occurring in this area of the park. Red Rock Parkway provides access to several trail areas, picnic shelters and educational exhibits.
Waterton Lakes is a horse friendly park, allowing horses to use all but a few of the parks trails throughout the summer months. There are also opportunities for longer rides into the surrounding Provincial Parkland. Guided rides can be arranged through Alpine Stables http://www.alpinestables.com/.
In addition to the paved parkways that allow cycle traffic, mountain bikers will also find several riding opportunities within the Waterton area. Local trails allowing bicycle traffic include:
- Crandell Lake(Red Rock Parkway)
- Crandell Lake(Akamina Parkway)
- Snowshoe Trail
- Wall Lake,BC
- Wishbone Trail
Directions from Great Falls:
Travel US Interstate 15 north 68 miles to Exit 348 Highway 44/Valier Rd. Turn left and follow Highway 44 for 29.4 miles, then turn right onto US 89 North. Follow US 89 North 73.8 miles passing through the town of Browning. Turn left onto Montana17/Chief Joseph Highway and travel 14.2 miles to the Canadian Boarder. Continue on this road, now Canada AB-6 for 13.7 miles to the Waterton National Park Entrance.
Tags: National Parks